Andris Nelsons’s first season as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will include 10 Symphony Hall programs and a European tour with stops in Berlin, Cologne, London, Lucerne, and Paris. His first concert this fall will be a gala vocal program with soprano Kristine Opolais, his wife, and tenor Jonas Kaufmann.
These and other details of the 2014-15 season were announced Wednesday afternoon at Symphony Hall. Nelsons’s 10 programs next year will draw from his own personal range of interests, with several programs built around works that, according to the BSO, “inspired and influenced his life as a musician.” This will include the initial work on his opening program, the Overture to Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” which was the first opera he heard live, at age 5, an experience he has credited with planting the seeds for his future career. Over the course of next season, he will also lead symphonies by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, Bruckner, Beethoven, and Mahler as well as Strauss tone poems, Bartok’s Suite from “The Miraculous Mandarin,” and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”
Two world premieres are scheduled for next season: a work for chorus and orchestra by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds and a work for organ and orchestra by Michael Gandolfi. Nelsons will also get better acquainted with the music of Gunther Schuller and John Harbison, two composers closely associated with the BSO, as he leads one work by each of them. He will also collaborate with trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger in the American premiere of Brett Dean’s Trumpet Concerto.
The full roster of the BSO’s most frequent podium guests will be returning next season, including Bernard Haitink, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Stéphane Denève, and Charles Dutoit, who will lead the orchestra’s first performances of Szymanowski’s opera “King Roger.” Vladimir Jurowski will conduct the American premiere of a new score by Harrison Birtwistle alongside music of Stravinsky and Liadov. And conductors making their Symphony Hall subscription debuts will include Asher Fisch and Tugan Sokhiev. The season will open with BSO associate conductor Marcelo Lehninger leading works by Beethoven, Villa-Lobos, and Mozart.
Next year’s soloists will include violinists Frank Peter Zimmermann, Christian Tetzlaff, Leonidas Kavakos, Baiba Skride, Julia Fischer, Julian Rachlin, and James Ehnes; cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Gautier Capuçon, and Johannes Moser; and pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Maria João Pires, Richard Goode, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Lars Vogt, Christian Zacharias, and Rudolf Buchbinder. Details of the BSO’s European tour, scheduled for after the 2015 Tanglewood season, have not yet been announced.
After a rehearsal on Wednesday for Thursday’s performance of “Salome,” Nelsons addressed a group of journalists and others gathered in Symphony Hall. “There are so many pieces, so many composers, we would like to present in our first season already, but it’s not possible,” he explained. “The first season is about enjoying and exploring and introducing many of my musical friendships, what I’ve experienced through the years of my career, many soloists and artists, and the composers that have been very important in my life.”
In his comments Nelsons expressed a hope that the orchestra can return to touring widely in the coming years. Managing director Mark Volpe also said there were discussions underway about potential new recording relationships, though nothing had yet been confirmed.
At one point, Nelsons retuned to a metaphor he has used before, comparing the experience of conducting the BSO to driving a Ferrari. He then drew the biggest laughs of the afternoon when he added, “but I don’t drive. So I hope you’ve made the right decision.”